November 24, 2020

Washington Wire: Ask Congress to Support Federal Investment in Workforce Training


Take Action: Ask Congress to Support Federal Investment in Workforce Training  

We need your help to ensure that Washington supports critical job training and technical education policies and promote careers in manufacturing. The House of Representatives and the Senate are working on a rewrite of the Higher Education Act (HEA). The reauthorization of HEA provides Congress with an opportunity to support vital Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs to address the needs of the manufacturing industry and help close the skills gap.
Members in both the House and the Senate have reintroduced vital workforce development and CTE legislation such as the JOBS Act and the College Transparency Act. The JOBS Act (S. 839) introduced by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), expands Pell Grant eligibility to allow the use of grants for short-term credentials. The College Transparency Act (H.R. 1766/S. 800) introduced by Reps. Paul Mitchell (R-MI), Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Josh Harder (D-CA) in the House and Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in the Senate, provides transparency for students regarding tuition and postsecondary outcomes.
Job recruitment, training, and placement, as well as advanced technical education, are critical to the future of manufacturing in America. We need Washington to pass a law supporting industry recognized credentials, expanding grants to include short term skills training, and educating parents and students about college debt and manufacturing career opportunities.
We need you to contact your Representatives and Senators today and ask them to support and cosponsor the JOBS Act and the College Transparency Act. Please click here to send a letter today promoting careers in manufacturing.



Trump Administration Releases Proposals to Reform the Higher Education Act
At the beginning of this week, the Trump Administration released a list of principles to reform the Higher Education Act (HEA). Congress has not fully reauthorized HEA since 2008, making only minor changes when it extended the law in 2013. One Voice supports many of the Trump Administration’s HEA reform principles which include supporting partnerships between employers and postsecondary institutions and expanding Pell Grant eligibility to short-term programs.
Besides supporting the administration, One Voice is working with leading policymakers in Washington to expand the HEA to treat credentials equally with two and four year degrees and allow Pell Grants for short-term skills training. One Voice has also endorsed several bipartisan bills focusing on career pathways, supporting community colleges partnering with local industry, and allowing employers to claim up to $5,250 in tax credits for helping employees repay student loans. With the introduction of the administration’s principles for HEA reform, along with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee stated intent to renew HEA during this congressional term, sources are expecting congressional committee hearings on HEA this spring. Click here to view the Trump Administration’s HEA reform proposal.



Labor Department Proposes New Overtime Rule
On March 7, the Labor Department announced its proposal to revise the overtime exemption rule issued under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under the current rule, employers must pay their employees making a salary below $455 per week ($23,660 annually) overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week. The agency claims the new proposed rule will make an estimated one million more American workers eligible for overtime pay.
The Labor Department’s proposed rule includes:
  • Increasing the minimum salary required for an employee to qualify for exemption from the currently-enforced level of $455 to $679 per week ($35,308 annually);
  • Increasing the total annual compensation requirement for “highly compensated employees” (HCE) from the currently-enforced level of $100,000 to $147,414 per year;
  • Allowing employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) that are paid annually or more frequently to satisfy up to 10 percent of the standard salary level;
  • Not changing the job duties test, which exempts minimum wage and overtime pay requirements for executive, administrative, professional, outside sales and computer employees; and
  • Committing to periodic review to update the salary threshold. An update would continue to require notice-and-comment rulemaking.
This proposed rule will replace the 2016 rule released by the Obama administration that was blocked from implementation by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The Obama rule sought to double the white-collar salaried overtime exemption to $47,476 annually. There will be a 60-day comment period when the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. Once the notice and comment period ends, sources expect the proposed rule to take effect January 1, 2020.



Democrats Seek to Reinstate Original Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Tracking Rule
Last week, thirty-four Congressional Democrats sent a letter to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta calling for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to reinstate the 2016 Obama Administration’s Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses rule. At the beginning of this year, OSHA issued a final rule revoking the requirement for businesses to submit Forms 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses) and 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report), only requiring submissions of Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses). In their letter, the lawmakers argued to reinstate Forms 300 and 301 and rejected OSHA’s argument that the final rule better protected workers’ privacy.
This letter is the most recent attempt to reinstate the 2016 Obama rule. After OSHA announced its final rule this January, a collection of advocacy groups filed a lawsuit claiming the agency violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to provide a reasoned explanation for its decision to change the Obama rule. In addition, at the beginning of this month, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey and New York filed a complaint seeking injunctive relief against Secretary Acosta and Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor Loren Sweatt for their “illegal and unjustified attempt” to roll back the Obama rule.



OSHA Issues Request for Information on Powered Industrial Trucks
On March 11, OSHA issued a request for information (RFI) on whether the agency should revise standards for the use of powered industrial trucks for general, maritime, and construction industries. Particularly, the agency’s RFI is seeking public comment “on what aspects of the powered industrial trucks standards are effective as well as those that may be outdated, inefficient, unnecessary, or overly burdensome, and how those provisions might be repealed, replaced, or modified while maintaining or improving worker safety.” The comment period runs until June 10, 2019.